Juxtaposition

The other day I was trying to explain the term ‘juxtaposition’ to a student.  I think I said something like, “when we juxtapose two items, we set them side by side in an attempt to highlight their differences.”

I’m sitting here this morning, having just read my devotion, seeing the glaring differences when I juxtapose my life with the life of Christ.  It’s embarrassing, really. Especially when I consider myself to be not only a Christian, but a leader in the church. It’s humbling, and sobering, to think that others look to my husband and I as examples of what Christians should be.  In a perfect world, we would be mirrors that merely reflected the love and grace of God to all those around us.  In reality, this mirror is warped, cracked, and positioned in such a way that the reflection is sometimes unrecognizable.

Let’s add a little object lesson.  Yesterday, I pridefully posted on Facebook that I had used inappropriate language to deal with a medical insurance agent regarding some services for one of our children.  “I showed her who was boss, yes I did.” As people liked that post throughout the day, I had a mixture of feelings — the satisfaction that others had experienced the same emotions that I had in similar experiences, the pride that I had written a post that others ‘liked’ (yes, I am that shallow), and, a hint of shame.  “Really, Kristin, you are celebrating the fact that you resorted to low means to achieve your goal? Would you have had the same outcome if you had remained calm and gracious? Was it really necessary to get so charged up?”

Now, to be fair, the situation I was confronted with was a bit ridiculous.  A change in policy was, in my opinion, unjustified, irresponsible, and unnecessary.  However, did my response also need to be ridiculous?  And, after I had apologized to the innocent agent I was dealing with, did I really have to haughtily post my poor reflection of Christ for all the world to see?

Yeah, I’m often a poor reflection. Juxtaposition would now show Christ’s reaction in a similar situation. He would be sitting in his office on the phone, calmly listening to the agent, asking questions, probably speaking directly into her life, picking up on nuances of her tone and reaching out to her need. He might ask who He could talk to about this recent policy change, but would He raise his voice? utter a vulgarity? or celebrate His breech of character on social media?

I doubt it.

When we juxtapose ourselves with perfection we find ourselves looking like a hot mess, because indeed we are hot messes. And that is why, my friends, God is the covenant keeper. (See my recent post ‘Didn’t He do it?”) We can’t keep the covenant. We can’t keep our commitment to be image bearers for Christ because we are a bunch of warped, cracked, misshapen mirrors.  We reflect His image poorly.  All the time.  Even when we think we are getting it right.

And yet, every once in a while, He uses these imperfect mirrors, tips them at just such an angle so that others get a glimpse of His fabulousness.  And in those moments, we don’t haughtily post on Facebook, but we drop to our knees in humble gratitude for having a front row seat.  Because when we juxtapose ourselves with Christ, and take our eyes off of our own imperfection, we see what true perfection looks like. And we are amazed.

I Corinthians 13:12

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.

Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

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